“Repetitive strain injury” is general terminology used to describe the sensation of pain in muscles, tendons, and nerves due to repeated movements, vibrations, or being in continually uncomfortable and in awkward postures to conduct work. Workers may believe that repetitive movements are tedious but cause no harm in the long term. However, injuries can include ligament tears, trapped nerves, hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), and tendonitis.
- Repetition, length of work, and speed at which one must work – Having to use the same body positions throughout the day, such as bending over or being required to strike awkward movements.
- Excessive exertion – Forceful movements can lead to strained or town muscles – especially when tired. This is commonly from tasks that involve a great deal of pushing, pulling, carrying objects, or striking frequently.
- Handling objects – Large objects that are difficult to move, including handling poorly designed tools, eventually leading to pain.
- Contact stress – Perpetual pressure from hard surfaces or a sharp edge pressed against a part of the body. This is common with office work due to the hard edges of a desk repeatedly contacting the arms or wrist.
- Vibration – Some machinery and tools vibrate continually when in use. This causes nerve damage and could cause workers to lose feeling in their arms and hands over time.
- Workspace of poor design – Requiring workers to carry heavy objects too far or other preventable and unnecessary environmental factors leading to injury is often an easily resolved safety risk.
- Organization and work of poor design – Infrequent breaks and pacing too quickly without task variation lead to injuries and physical burnout on the job.
Preventing Repetitive Strain Injury
• Ensure that workers are using tools that are comfortable and easy to use.
• Using tools that reduce vibration, such as anti-vibration tools or gloves. Thus, reducing damage to the nerves.
• Rests at intervals can be used to avoid issues surrounding vibration and repetitive movements.
• Tools should be in good condition. Tools that are poorly kept or damaged will often cause excessive vibration or require extra force to use them.
• Work areas should be organized to reduce the need for overextending and bending.
• Mechanical handling systems should be used where applicable to reduce lifting and carrying.
• Do not attempt to lift an object which is extremely heavy. Either reduce the object or load weight, ask for aid, or attain mechanical aid.
• Reduce the force of grip and pressure.
• Attempt to avoid continually uncomfortable body positions.
• Where possible, power tools should be used instead of hand tools as hand tools require more force and repetition.
• Safe lifting practices should be enforced.